How Coverage of NDSU Sports May Change This Year [UPDATED]
If you want to find out the latest in NDSU athletics, you can pretty much check your favorite news outlet across the state to find that information. But this year, things will be different.
UPDATE 8/2/16 -- North Dakota State has announced that it has rescinded its new media guidelines. According to the Argus Leader, President Dean Bresciani released the following statement:
“I was profoundly disappointed when I learned the facts about this issue.This is not the way NDSU treats local journalists and our many loyal fans who value the breadth of news coverage NDSU enjoys. As the state's land grant university, our commitment is to access and inclusion in all endeavors."
Athletic Director Matt Larsen issued this statement:
“I erred in not bringing these ideas forward for the president’s review, and I regret the damage this has caused to the administration, institution and university community."
Rescinding these rules was probably a fantastic idea. It has turned into a PR nightmare for the school and the athletic season hasn't even begun yet.
According to Inforum, in an effort to benefit their TV rights holders and radio rights holders, NDSU will restrict media access to non rights holders.
In other words, unless you are the official TV partner or radio partner of the Bison, other media outlets will not be allowed to do one-on-one interviews, cover press conferences live, or host any live events on the campus of NDSU.
The new restrictions also don't allow media outlets to do live blogging during games. It is unclear if this would apply to Twitter as well.
Therefore, unrestricted coverage of Bison athletics is exclusive to KVLY-TV in Fargo along with all other NBC affiliates throughout North Dakota for football. Midco Sports Network will have unrestricted media access for NDSU men's and women's basketball. Radio FM Media is the radio rights holder for all sports.
This does not mean other media outlets can't cover press conferences live or do one-on-one interviews ever again. NDSU is just choosing to charge media outlets a fee in order to allow them to do it.
In the sports media world, this is a big deal. The popular Gawker owned website Deadspin reported on the story, and according to that story, NDSU in response to this said, "most schools are doing this."
However, most schools are definitely not doing this. A well respectedt website that critiques sports media, Awful Announcing, also reported on the story.
This will certainly anger media outlets across the state that are used to getting this access to NDSU sports free of charge. You have to wonder if various media outlets, such as newspapers which are already a business that is in decline, will be willing to pay NDSU for this access. It is also worth wondering if the same 'positivity' that is reported on the school from these outlets will remain.
Here's a small secret about sports reporting having done it for a number of years with various outlets. Additionally, I covered sports for a very large University, Penn State, as I was a student there. I have worked for both Penn State Athletics directly and for media outlets not affiliated with the University.
Media outlets will put positive spins on stories to make the school feel a little better about itself. These media outlets need to request media credentials from the school and need to ask the school for permission to do interviews, or live reports from campus or anything else. Many times, the school will oblige. However, if they see a story you write was not too kind, or they have an issue with a certain reporter at an outlet, a school will have no issue denying your request, sometimes for no reason at all.
Penn State University for what it's worth, which has received the brunt of a lot of negative publicity in recent years following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, while also just being a very large Division I school in The Big Ten, does not charge any media outlets for one-on-one interviews, the right to broadcast press conferences live or anything else that NDSU will now be charging outlets for. As Deadspin reported, not charging for this kind of access is pretty standard.
Certainly it is hard to be negative about NDSU Football, which has created a dynasty in the FCS. But you still have to wonder if local media outlets that are potentially angered by this change, will change the way they report on NDSU athletics.